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How AI helps job seekers land their dream job

 How AI helps job seekers land their dream job

Presented by Indeed


If we look back to only a decade ago the best jobs were often word of mouth, and even when published, were difficult for a job seeker to find. Since then, aggregating jobs from thousands of sources has resulted in everyone online having equal access to job information and has fundamentally changed how people search for work. But with most jobs now online, finding the best-fit jobs without the help of artificial intelligence would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

AI powered by job seeker behavior data

At Indeed, the core of our product offerings is a search engine to help job seekers easily find relevant jobs. When one of our 200 million monthly users searches for a job title and location in one of the 60+ countries we serve worldwide, our algorithms use fourteen years of job seeker behavior data to learn and continuously improve the relevance of the jobs that are displayed. The engine uses AI to rank matching jobs and help the job seeker understand when a job is a great fit. In the last year alone, we were able to double job matching relevance.

One of the earliest examples of AI use at Indeed was salary prediction.  Every job seeker cares about salary, yet many companies do not provide salary information in their job descriptions.  By using third-party resources and hundred of millions of salary points from historical job search data, Indeed’s algorithms are able to predict a salary range for jobs when a company does not.  Employers were not always thrilled, but it was the right thing for job seekers so we quickly allowed employers to override, and thus help train, the salary predictions.

AI powered by search behavior data is also used in many other ways, such as predicting jobs that have reasonable commute times.  By monitoring where job seekers look at jobs over thousands of similar searches, patterns evolve and train the algorithms to offer jobs that have reasonable commutes – all without the algorithm knowing anything about the local geography, train schedules or traffic congestion patterns.

New AI technology to improve the job seeker experience

Using job seeker behavior and outside databases was a great start at powering AI to increase relevance. With over 90 million resumes, billions of job descriptions, and more reviews of employers by employees than any other site, there is also a wealth of unstructured data available to Indeed to mine which increases the accuracy of our matching algorithms. Job descriptions are explored with Natural Language Processing algorithms to extract the details of experience requirements and soft skills that a company prefers. For job seekers, NLP is used to better understand personal desires from resumes and company reviews. This data can significantly increase the prediction success of a match and paint a deeper picture of an opportunity.

Moving beyond resumes and job descriptions

Job descriptions and resumes continue to be the first impressions available to job seekers and employers and are still the standard inputs for matching algorithms. However, these documents are one-tdimensional views of the workplace fraught with the potential for unintentional human biases.

With today’s job descriptions, it is often hard for a job seeker to get a good read on whether they are a good fit.  Worse yet, commonly used language can discourage women, older workers and other groups from applying for jobs when otherwise they would be a great fit.  With resumes, it is difficult to reflect the depth of experience of a job seeker.  A resume written to target one employer is likely all wrong for another. Indeed is working on products to improve these prehistoric documents. An example is AI-driven assessment technology.

When looking for employees with specific skills, AI can search the job description and suggest assessments that would be appropriate for the job. It can further reduce the time needed to understand qualifications by automating the testing, scoring the results, and recommending candidates.  By allowing a job seeker to interactively provide work samples that match an employer’s requirements, assessments provide employer confidence in the prospective employee. Executed well, these assessments can help remove the human biases that result in diverse-challenged organizations.

For the job seeker, knowing more about what the employer needs and that their skills are a match can be very empowering. Assessments can be recommended based on the experience found in resumes. These assessments can provide the job seeker with advice about skills needing improvement, jobs to apply for, and certainty in understanding how they rank in targeted skills compared to others applying for the same jobs.

AI will continue to reshape the hiring process

AI is rapidly changing the recruiting industry. Traditional job-hunting resources — resumes, networking with friends, industry associations – are always going to be helpful in finding a great job.  But they are a small slice of the universe of what can be done today.  When so many jobs can be viewed online with ever-evolving AI-powered matching technology — where jobs come to you — these traditional methods must be augmented with online search, assessments and other innovations to find the best job available and make that dream job come true.

Raj Mukherjee is SVP of Product at Indeed.


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The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

It looked nothing like an iPhone, or anything Apple might dare to make.

On September 10, 2013, the day Apple unveiled the iPhone 5S, Dutch designer Dave Hakkens uploaded a video to YouTube to promote his college graduation project: Phonebloks, “a phone worth keeping.”

Hakkens imagined a smartphone made of interchangeable blocks, and each block — the screen, the battery, the processor, and so on — could be easily upgraded or repaired, so it wouldn’t end up in a landfill after two years.

“In the beginning, we were asking for like 500 supporters,” said Hakkens, but 48 hours later, the video went viral, racking up millions of views — and delivering a jolt to a small technology incubator called ATAP, Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group.

“Phonebloks was announced, and the world went berserk. If Dave Hakkens hadn’t had this viral video, we wouldn’t have announced Ara probably for at least another year,” said former ATAP design lead Dan Makoski in a VentureBeat interview. “We were outed by Dave, inadvertently.”

The ATAP studio had worked in secret for more than a year on a similar device: a phone made of infinitely customizable parts they called modules. It wasn’t supposed to be a phone you’d queue up in line every year to buy. It was something radically different. Block by block, this was to be a phone you could create.

“Ara Knaian of NK Labs, who the project’s named after, he and his crew had figured out how to actually make it work,” recalls Makoski. The team had already finalized the initial industrial designs for it. “If we [waited] to tell the world that we’ve been working on this, everybody’s going to think that we copied Dave. So we said, ‘Shit, OK, what should we do?’”

“So,” Makoski said, “we just called Dave.”

48 days later, Motorola revealed it: Project Ara.

1 The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

“Thinking back, I never called it a modular phone,” said Hakkens in an interview with VentureBeat.

“I had an old camera that I broke and I couldn’t really fix it. So I took it apart and I noticed all the components were still pretty good, except for one thing.”

“I thought: Isn’t that weird that we throw everything away just because one part is broken?” said Hakkens.

“At first, I wanted to make a phone that lasts 100 years. But then I realized, I kind of like technology — that it evolves, that it gets better. The only downside is that after it gets better, we throw everything away. I started looking into it, and it generates a lot of e-waste … I mean now we have some devices, but in the future it’s thermostats, fridges, microwaves — everything will be connected. So what if a chip breaks in your fridge? Do you just throw the entire thing away?”

The Phonebloks story spread like wildfire. Gadget blogs covered it en masse, hordes of supporters signed up to support, tweet, and share the idea with a viral marketing tool called Thunderclap, and developers fired back, saying it couldn’t be done — that it was impossible to build. Perhaps they had a point.

“He was just getting destroyed by engineers on Reddit saying ‘There’s no way this could work, right? This is just a pipe dream.’ The way he had designed it was totally unrealistic because he’s an industrial designer and doesn’t, you know, understand the complexity,” Makoski said.

“I didn’t really put a lot of effort into how the thing would look, because I didn’t really care about that. So I sort of stripped it down to the most basic version, which would be blocks,” said Hakkens. “I figured, maybe it’s a good thing to just put it out online to gather people that support it. Then, if you had a lot of support, companies would make it.”

The idea struck a nerve. Only Hakkens needed someone to build it.

Then ATAP called.

3 The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

When Google’s $ 12.5 billion Motorola Mobility acquisition closed in May 2012, the maker movement looked like the dawn of a manufacturing revolution. Food trucks swarmed Motorola’s new Sunnyvale, California campus because the cafeteria was still under construction. Incoming CEO Dennis Woodside sought someone to run innovation at the new, Googly Motorola, and the job went to former DARPA director Regina Dugan. “Regina was the soul of ATAP,” recalls Makoski.

Makoski joined with a ticking clock: He had just two years at ATAP because of a rule inspired by Dugan’s time at DARPA, where newcomers were handed a name tag with an expiration date.

“When Regina hired me, I had no idea what I’d work on. You know, I had some thoughts — I had some interests — and I actually sketched out on my first week six different possible ways to go. One of those little sharpie marker sketches, it was kind of a question.”

“And I thought she was insane. But you know, that was the beginning”

“When I look at the highest form of admiration in the smartphone space it was for the iPhone. I love Apple’s design, but I had seen the maker movement, and Maker Faire, and Tech Shop, and these beginning glimmerings of a very different model than what Apple was celebrating. Apple was celebrating the craftsmanship of the perfect object. To me, it was like the ultimate expression of the Henry Ford vision of making one object a million times perfectly.”

“So my question was, What if we did the exact opposite?” said Makoski.

ReginaDugan2 The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

Above: Regina Dugan

“We started thinking about this idea of extreme personalization. Is there evidence that this is working? We looked at everything from Etsy — we actually did some interesting research on the tattoo space, because that’s evidence of extreme personalization.”

That’s how Project Ara got its first name; before it was Ara, a name inspired by the project’s eventual electrical, mechanical, and software engineering lead, Ara Knaian, Makoski had called it Esprimo — Esperanto for “expression.”

In ATAP’s earliest months, Dugan and Makoski often walked to lunch together, traversing the parking lot to reach the best food truck: Sam’s Chowder Mobile. And during one of these lunch breaks, in line at Sam’s, Dugan had an epiphany.

“‘A food truck,’” Makoski recalls Dugan exclaiming. “‘We should make a factory food truck. Like you customize your meal right here, we should put 3D printers and hackable electronics into a truck, and that’s how we’re going to make this idea.’”

“And I thought she was insane. But you know, I thought about it more, and that was the beginning. It was all about how to create electronics that are malleable and adaptive and personal, and where every one is different,” said Makoski.

wired16 moto 012  The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

Above: The Moduino. One of Project Ara’s earliest prototypes, made out of a Razr phone and an Arduino developer board. It is also credited as the origin of Motorola’s semi-modular Moto Z.

The slog began.

“We were working on both aesthetic customization and functional customization. I was leading a lot of those design and psychology experiments around, ‘how do we overcome the paradox of choice?’” recalls Makoski.

Ali Javidan, a Tesla engineer Dugan poached to run ATAP’s prototyping shop, was charged with developing it. “His part was much harder than my part, quite honestly. But he got to the point where we took these Razr phones and we took the main application processor and took the leafs off of that, connected it to an Arduino board.” They nicknamed this early prototype Moduino.

It was an omen of things to come

“We, from that August for the next six months, really struggled, quite honestly, because it’s just so freakin’ hard.”

Javidan — charged with developing dozens of projects at ATAP, from touch-sensitive fabric to mobile 3D mapping — was stretched incredibly thin. And Makoski, a designer at heart, did not consider himself technically capable of getting Ara off the ground. Something had to give.

TWbEt4bh 800x600 The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

Above: Left: Ali Javidan, Right: Dan Makoski

Image Credit: Dan Makoski

“At that point, Ali and I, quite honestly, we didn’t feel like we were equipped to shepherd the project.”

“Regina liked this idea so much. And she just believed in people so much, she said, ‘Dan, hire the people, you can be the technical project lead.’ And I honestly — I sometimes regret making this decision — but I just said, ‘Regina, I’m not capable of shepherding this project to life.’”

So Dugan found someone else: Paul Eremenko, who worked on rapid manufacturing at DARPA, joined ATAP in April, 10 months into Makoski’s time at the studio. The project, not even a year old, was under new leadership.

And it was an omen of things to come. The sheer audacity that brought Ara to life — a phone you could create, block by block — made it impossible for Makoski, or anyone else, to succeed. But Eremenko would get close.

7 The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

Javidan assumed responsibility for managing the shop. Makoski, meanwhile, partnered with Eremenko on the design, cultural, community, and psychological facets of Ara.

“I was in charge of the soul. Paul was in charge of body. That’s how we divvied our time.”

“Paul was always the one with red eyes, hadn’t gotten any sleep, and was always super focused with what he did,” recalls Hakkens. “It was Paul, for me, who was really pushing the project forward.”

“Paul was really ambitious. And he was actually hoping that we’d have something we could get out in people’s hands in early 2014, I guess, initially. That was back in the early days,” said Makoski.

9972599883 cd8649a4ff h The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

Above: A factory on wheels.

The team hired another key contributor: Jason Chua. He was a Stanford graduate who had cofounded SparkTruck — a project to connect students with maker-movement supplies, like 3D printers and electronics. Chua and Makoski set out to build Dugan’s factory on wheels to test the team’s early experiments at scale.

That summer, as Makoski and Chua drove 12,683 miles across the U.S. in a Velcro-clad van testing Dugan’s food truck epiphany with real people, Eremenko stayed home, creating the technical infrastructure for a malleable smartphone.

8 The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

Even as Makoski and Chua drew crowds testing the thesis behind Ara, back home in Sunnyvale, the audience was far from enthusiastic. According to Makoski, Motorola’s then-CEO Dennis Woodside was rather unimpressed by Ara’s initial prototypes.

Before Phonebloks went viral, “He was like, ‘Yeah, cool guys, that’s interesting, but you know this maker thing is kind of niche. No one’s really going to care,’” said Makoski.

“Holy shit, you guys have actually been working on it. Like, this could be real”

Motorola’s engineering VP, Iqbal Arshad, had advised on the project early on, and his team helped Javidan and Makoski put together their first prototypes. But Ara would be shrugged off as a side project by Motorola.

“[Arshad’s] a really good guy, but when Google had taken over Motorola, he was trying to focus his engineering resources on just a couple of things that were really going to move the needle. I mean, his whole focus was on the Moto X at that point,” recalls Makoski.

“He was like, ‘I don’t have time for your crazy modular thing. That’s totally insane, architecturally.’”

Screen Shot 2017 01 10 at 11.10.08 AM The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

Above: Another early Ara prototype

Image Credit: Phonebloks

After a summer of working cheek by jowl, Makoski and Chua’s cross-country tour came to an end and Eremenko finished laying out the core technical details of Ara — a “packet-switched network on a device,” printed on 3D printers and held together by experimental EPM magnets under development by Ara Knaian.

Then Hakkens went public with Phonebloks. His bold idea took off like a rocket.

Flooded with interest, Hakkens spoke with several companies, but Google, in particular, got his attention. “Google was really persistent,” he said, “and they mentioned that ‘we’ve been working on a project like this — would you like to come and see and maybe we can do something together?’” ATAP flew Hakkens from Rotterdam to Motorola’s Sunnyvale campus.

“We just walked him through what we were working on, and he was just like, ‘Holy shit, you guys have actually been working on it. Like, this could be real,’” said Makoski. It was September 2013, and Makoski had less than ten months remaining in his two-year tour at ATAP.

“I know Google doesn’t necessarily care about the environment, but still I liked what they were doing. So instead of working for Google, it seemed to make sense to stay independent from them,” said Hakkens. “In the end, [I] wanted to support other modular phones. Not just Google.”

“I’ll just say we left those two days of meetings with Dave suggesting a [consulting] price that was just ridiculous to us, and us offering Dave to join Motorola,” said Makoski.

Hakkens turned them down.

That seemed like it would be the last ATAP would hear from him.

“He just wanted to stay independent. And we said ‘good luck.’ It was friendly, but not finding a way to collaborate,” said Makoski.

Then, “literally 48 hours before the Thunderclap [marketing push] was to go out, Dave called us and said, ‘Hey guys, I have a proposal: How about you guys just pay me for my time to tell your story, and I use the Phonebloks community as a place where you guys can get feedback on what you’re trying to do’,” said Makoski. “And that was acceptable to us. So we said great.”

On October 28, 2013, Motorola unveiled Ara.

6 The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

In Motorola’s announcement, Eremenko posed a gutsy question: “How do we bring the benefits of an open hardware ecosystem to 6 billion people?” Six billion — a very, very large number.

He painted the project in brilliant, broad strokes on the company’s blog.

“Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive, and open relationship between users, developers, and their phones. To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs, and how long you’ll keep it.”

motorola project ara 1 The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

Above: The first public designs of Project Ara, released with Motorola’s announcement. Makoski originally opposed showing the seams of each module — that was Eremenko’s idea.

Image Credit: Google ATAP

“We all went home after we announced,” recalls Makoski, “and then we all came back two hours later and the world just went psycho. I don’t think we expected the amount of interest. Even Woodside — who was lukewarm … when we had showed him stuff before we announced publicly — the week after we announced, Dennis was like: ‘We’ve been proudly working on this…’”

Ara had appeared out of nowhere — just 48 days after Phonebloks’ viral hit — and the optics couldn’t be stranger. From outside ATAP, the arrangement was incredibly opaque. Motorola appeared to have copied Hakkens, even as Eremenko said otherwise. But Hakkens had never contributed to Ara, the phone — neither the hardware nor the software.

“He basically became a journalist,” said Makoski. “He would come in every couple of months and update his readership and the broader world about what we were doing. He’s a storyteller.” Hakkens hoped other companies would partner with Phonebloks, but the surrounding confusion muddied his vision.

“One of the things we did wrong, or could have done better, was that everybody thought Ara was Phonebloks,” said Hakkens. “I think everybody thought we were bought out by Google … so we kind of lost our independent image. And companies wouldn’t get in touch that much anymore.”

But Hakkens did something crucial for Ara; he dragged it out of the shadows and forced ATAP to develop the project in the open. Within the tech industry, all eyes fell on Ara and ATAP.

More remarkable was Project Ara’s starting price

When Google sold Motorola to Lenovo that January, it held onto ATAP and Ara — a shining light of innovation at an advertising behemoth.

As one might expect, Google’s absorption of ATAP had side effects.

“In some ways, it let us preserve our charter,” said Makoski. “And actually, there were some internally that said it was this project, Project Ara, that was the one that ended up keeping us [at Google], because it generated so much enthusiasm in the technical world.”

Others say Google held Ara back. “The pace and scale of contracting that we did all of the sudden really slowed down [after the acquisition],” said one source, who requested anonymity. “The model of ATAP is based on really rapid contracts, like DARPA. There were 150 people working on Ara before we transitioned into Google. And only 3 of them, or 4 of them, were Google employees. All the rest were external contractors,” said the source.

“To us, it just felt like we had just kinda hit molasses. And I think, to Google, it felt like they were being uncomfortably sped up,” the source said.

When Ara was announced in October 2013, Eremenko told the world that ATAP would release Project Ara’s Module Developer’s Kit (MDK) early the next year. And in February, in a lengthy Time profile, he promised a basic commercial release for the first quarter of 2015.

motorola project ara 2 The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

Eremenko imagined doing “for hardware what the Android platform has done for software,” but more remarkable was Project Ara’s starting price: $ 50.

Eremenko sought to build a phone that was customizable beyond any electronic device ever created. You could pick the features, decide when and what to upgrade, and (within reason) pay whatever you wanted.

For $ 50, the starter phone would ship with only the most basic features — not even a 3G modem. But that same phone could be enhanced and evolve to incorporate technological improvements over time. Premium modules, like a bigger battery or a high-quality camera, could transform that smartphone from an obsolescence timebomb into a worthwhile investment.

“We had a philosophy that this phone was not for the iPhone-carrying, latest Samsung Galaxy-carrying smartphone owner in the U.S.,” said Makoski. “We wanted to bring access to the internet, to the smartphone space, to those who previously didn’t have it. And part of the ways to do that is to create a platform where an India telecom could put customized radios into Ara for a $ 50 price point or a $ 100 price point, or it could scale all the way up to something for Latin America or the U.S.”

ATAP released Project Ara’s developer kit one month behind schedule, in April 2014 — the same month Google teased its legion of fans with a prototype of Ara’s main Endo module.

Two months later, ATAP started accepting applications for Ara developer boards. The team was in full swing, determined to make Ara real. And Ara’s biggest supporters were certain it soon would be.

And then Ara lost one of its founders: Makoski’s two years were up. Meanwhile, Eremenko had 13 months to go.

On October 29, 2014, Google released a video of its first working Ara prototype. Soon after, in January, the company shared a second clip, this one showing Ara with a 3G modem and a swath of modules across every category, from miniature piano keyboards to heart rate monitors, all clad in vivid colors and personalized with photos.

Another goodbye brought Ara’s myriad designs within reach. Eremenko cut ties with one of Ara’s earliest supporters, 3DSystems, scrapping the project’s dependence on rapid 3D printing for a dye sublimation process. 3DSystems’ printers were too slow, and the new system could adorn modules with selfies and pets.

Eremenko fought to release Ara into the world before his final days at ATAP, but he lost faith as the project’s timeline shifted stubbornly into the future.

“I remember from the beginning that Phonebloks was like a 10-year vision or something like that. And then Google said, ‘Alright, we are going to do it in two years,’ which seemed super ambitious,” said Hakkens.

“Once we had figured out that we could pull it off technically, we just needed to line up all of the silicon providers, etc., to get it all working. And then there were all different types of roadblocks,” said Makoski. “Everything from the EPM magnets not going to the strength we wanted to some of our partners requiring all kinds of business relationships that maybe we weren’t ready to give. I can’t really comment on that stuff, partly because I don’t know it that well.”

ATAP planned to launch a market pilot outside the U.S. first — in a South American country that shared a timezone with Google’s headquarters, like Ecuador or Argentina. The pilot, as promised by Eremenko in the pages of Time magazine, was slated for release for sometime in 2015 — ATAP never said when exactly, but the studio eventually settled on a location, Puerto Rico.

“We just said, “Let’s use Puerto Rico’ because it has a similar regulatory regime as the U.S., and if we can do something in Puerto Rico than we kind of check the box that, if we wanted to, we can scale in the U.S. market (and also in Latin America),” explained Makoski.

But the phone wasn’t stable or sturdy enough; the project needed yet more nurturing, and Ara once again missed a shipping window.

In June 2015, Eremenko left ATAP. His two years were up, and Ara faced more uncertainty than ever.

The next month, Google canceled the Puerto Rico pilot and promised an Ara release in 2016. “It’s difficult for a project like this to have a good estimate of where you’re going and when it’s ready. I remember telling them a couple of times that they really shot themselves in the foot by mentioning something like that,” said Hakkens.

And Project Ara, without a leader, changed hands again. This time, Dugan took charge, with Motorola veteran Rafa Camargo, and the team went quiet to rework Ara, leaving many developers, and Hakkens, in the dark.

2 The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

At the start of 2015, Eremenko’s dream of a $ 50 phone had evaporated. “The evolution of what Ara was supposed to be had changed so much because of the big question mark around what consumers actually wanted,” a source who worked on Ara told VentureBeat. “And a $ 50 [smartphone] is just not technically possible. That’s the truth. Anybody who makes smartphones can tell you that.”

So Ara pivoted.

“I felt like it was the biggest opportunity that I had ever been presented”

Under Dugan and Camargo, Ara morphed into a high-end phone with all the essentials built in. Ara lost its ability to serve different price points, but the project gained focus. It was designed to push the limits of what a smartphone could be with modules that add entirely new features, like super-powered Lego blocks.

Imagine the modules developers might dream up. There were the obvious ideas, like specialized cameras and high-end speakers. But modules could get stranger, wilder, too. One module idea, in particular, frequently derailed meetings inside ATAP’s walls, as studio leaders strained to picture a module gold rush akin to Apple’s App Store.

“One of the modules that we were working on was basically like a tiny aquarium for your phone,” said the source. “It was a little tiny biome that would go inside of a module and it would have a microscope on the bottom part, and it would have live tardigrades and algae — some people call them water bears. They are the tiniest living organism. We had this idea to build a tardigrade module and we’d build a microscope with it. So you’d have this app on your phone and you could essentially look at the tardigrades up close and watch them floating around.” Brooklyn-based art, design, and technology agency Midnight Commercial conceived the idea, and was commissioned by Google to build it, demonstrating the depth of what developers could create.

Enthusiasm inside ATAP climbed as 2015 advanced. “It was very much balls to the wall, let’s go. Let’s make this happen. It was very fast. It was super exciting. Really, really exciting,” said the source. “The way [Dugan] presented it and the way she talked about it, I felt like it was the biggest opportunity that I had ever been presented.”

But while Ara’s team grew, Larry Page and Sergey Brin sought to slim Google down. The pair created a parent company named Alphabet, split most of Google’s wild bets, like internet balloons and smart thermostats, into separate companies, and put Sundar Pichai in charge of Google.

ATAP remained at Google, closely guarded by Dugan, and Pichai hired Motorola president Rick Osterloh to make sense of Google’s fragmented hardware projects. Increasingly known for duds like Glass and the bowling-ballish Nexus Q, Google had to get serious about hardware.

Then in April 2016, one month before Ara’s biggest-ever reveal, planned for Google I/O, Dugan suddenly left.

She was hired to lead Building 8, an undefined company created by Facebook with “hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars” at her disposal, Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page announcing the appointment.

“When she left, there was essentially a leadership vacuum,” a source said. “Because there wasn’t a champion for Ara, someone who could really go to bat for it, I think it just fell down the priority list. And if you look at the LG [G5] phone, it just didn’t do very well. If you look at the other attempts at modularity and try to get a feel for the market, there’s just not a lot of good signals out there.”

In August, the Ara team was tracking to ship Ara to developers in late 2016 and to the public in 2017. Then Osterloh’s axe fell. Ara was “suspended.”

News of the cull rang out like a sudden alarm in the ears of Ara’s staff, who had continued to toil in Dugan’s absence. And Ara’s remaining loyal fans, worn out by years of delays, mourned the news on Twitter. Perhaps more than anyone else, the news pierced the heart of Dan Makoski, who walked the streets of Palo Alto that night in disbelief that Ara was really, truly gone.

9 The dream of Ara: Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone

Ara has laid dormant for five months — the prototypes locked away from developers as a fraction of Ara’s remaining team stayed to wind down the project. Some later rejoined Dugan at Building 8. Others went on to other projects at Google.

Google may someday license or sell Ara. The company has hinted it might, yet throughout Ara’s evolution there was always a missing piece. “Consumers don’t care about modularity,” said the source who worked on Ara. “And even today, I’m still not sure that it’s something that consumers want.”

Makoski thinks otherwise.

“I feel like Project Ara, if it does get shelved, it’s a shame that they didn’t have the courage to go all the way and fail a couple of times at a commercial release to get it over the hump. But I think the industry will. And hopefully I’ll be alive to see that. I’m only 42 … I still believe.”

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Solution Spotlight: Renodis and PowerSurveyPlus Make for an Invoicing Dream Team [VIDEO]

Solution Spotlight Renodis Still 800x600 300x225 Solution Spotlight: Renodis and PowerSurveyPlus Make for an Invoicing Dream Team [VIDEO]

Solution Spotlight: Renodis has been one of our PowerSuccess customers for several years now. One of the business problems they experienced during the course of our relationship, was the need to digitally capture and record customer approval of invoices. Hear from Liam, their PowerSuccess Engineer, on how PowerObjects helped them achieve success with this Solution Spotlight!

To accomplish Renodis’ goals, we used our PowerPack Add-on, PowerSurvey, to capture approvals and rejections of an invoice. Customer CRM workflows write those responses back to CRM, where they then trigger additional processes.

In 2016, we updated Renodis to PowerSurveyPlus, our even BETTER survey add-on, which gave us a chance to update processes and take advantage of some of the new features of PowerSurveyPlus – like conditionally visible fields.

In this solution, a CRM user manually triggers a workflow that sends out an email with information about a customer’s invoice and a link to an invoice approval survey. In the survey, the customer can either approve or reject the invoice, and if rejected, provide a reason why they rejected the invoice. Once the survey is submitted, the data travels to Azure and back to Renodis’ CRM where it updates the Invoice Approval fields. These fields indicate if any invoice has been approved or rejected. If rejected, a Renodis CRM user can start the process over once changes or updates to the invoice have been made.

Today’s solution shows you a quick way to implement a process to capture a digital data and track it into CRM. Because as well all know, CRM is only as valuable as the data you keep in it! Keep coming back to the blog for more great Microsoft Dynamics CRM Solution Spotlights from PO TV!

Happy CRM’ing!

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PowerObjects- Bringing Focus to Dynamics CRM

Kevin Hart Renovates Young Cancer Patient’s Bedroom With Muscle-Car Theme for Dream Makeover

Kevin Hart took time out of his busy schedule recently to make one boy’s dream a reality, and ET was there for the big reveal.

Jacob, an 11-year-old cancer patient living in Las Vegas, was diagnosed with leukemia in October 2015. Since then, much of Jacob’s days have been spent indoors, which gave Hart an idea.

“Jacob has been dealing with leukemia and he spends a lot of time in his bedroom, so I said, ‘Why not go to this boy’s house and revamp, renovate and change his bedroom in one of the most massive ways possible?’” Hart told ET.

Inspired by Jacob’s interest in muscle cars, Hart linked up with BrittiCares and Rally Health to give Jacob’s room a race-car makeover complete with sports car wall figures and drawers made to look like tool chests.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Jacob tearfully thanked everyone after the epic unveiling.

“Thank you so much for all of this,” Jacob said. “I just can’t put it in words.”

BrittiCares, with the help of Kevin Hart and Rally Health, are helping to increase the quality of life for children suffering from cancer.

“Ultimately, it’s not about me,” Hart said. “It’s about the children, about the people who are in need. That’s all this is.”

Hart’s stand-up movie, Kevin Hart: What Now?, opens Oct. 14.

Source: Entertainment Tonight

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A Dream of Great Big Data Riches – Harvesting Mainframe Log Data

Log Data Blog 6 17 16 A Dream of Great Big Data Riches – Harvesting Mainframe Log Data

In today’s new world of big data analytics, traditional enterprise companies have jewels hidden within their walls, embedded in legacy systems. Amongst the most precious stones, but perhaps some of the best hidden, are the various forms of mainframe log data.

Z/OS system components, subsystems, applications and management tools continually issue messages, alerts and status and completion data, and write them to log files or make streams available via APIs. We are talking hundreds of thousands of data items every day, much more from big systems. This “log data” generally comes under the heading of unstructured or semi-structured data and has not traditionally been seen as a resource of great value. In some cases it is archived for later manual research if required, in many cases it just disappears!  In the case of SMF records it has traditionally been consumed by expensive mainframe based reporting products that unlock the value, but at great cost and you still need special expertise to do anything with it.

What if all this potentially valuable data could be collected painlessly in real-time, made usable by a simple query language and presented in easy to read visualizations for use by operational teams? This sounds like a fantasy dream, but it is what Syncsort and Splunk have achieved through their partnership and products.

Nuggets and gemstones

Of all the data sources we are talking about, SMF (System Management Facility) records are the wealthiest trove with over 150 different record types that can be collected. SMF provides valuable security and compliance data that can be used for intrusion detection, tracking of account usage, data movement tracking and data access pattern analysis. SMF also provides an abundance of availability and performance data for the z/OS operating system, applications, web servers, DB2, CICS, Websphere and the MQ sub-system.

But there is much additional information in feeds like SYSLOG, RMF (Resource Management Facility) and Log4J. And there are the more open ended sources that could be considered log data, like the SYSOUT reports from batch jobs.

The gem collector and now Lapidarist too

Syncsort’s solution for the collection of mainframe log data is called Ironstream and it is a super-efficient pipeline to get data into Splunk Enterprise or Splunk Cloud. Designed from the start to be lightweight with minimum CPU overhead, Ironstream is a data forwarder that converts log data into JSON field/value pairs for easy ingestion. We built it in direct response to Splunk customers who wanted to complete their Enterprise IT picture with critical mainframe data to complete an end-to-end, 3600 view.

Log Data Blog 2 6 17 16 A Dream of Great Big Data Riches – Harvesting Mainframe Log Data

In addition to all the data sources listed above, Ironstream offers access to any sequential file and USS files. This gives very comprehensive coverage to any source of log data that an organization might be producing from an application. But in addition we offer an Ironstream API that can be used by any application to send data directly to Splunk if it’s not already writing it out somewhere.

Of course something has to be too good to be true here doesn’t it?   Well yes, one potential issue is the sheer volume of data that is available and the cost of storing it. While all of it could be valuable, most companies are going to want to selectively focus on the items that are most valuable to them now. To address this requirement, our Ironstream engineers became digital Lapidarists.  In the non-digital world, Lapidarists are expert artisans, who refine precious gemstones into wearable works of art. With the latest release of Ironstream, we now offer a filtering facility that allows you to refine large the large volumes of mainframe data by selecting individual fields from records, discarding the rest. By customer request, we have on our roadmap an even more powerful “WHERE” select clause that will allow you to select data elements across records based upon subject or content.

Why didn’t I know this?

There is a fast moving disruption happening in the world of IT management and not everyone wants you to know it. Open source solutions and new analytical tools are changing everything.

For the last 40 years complex, point-management tools have been used by highly skilled mainframe personnel to keep mainframes running efficiently.  Critical status messages are intercepted on their way to SYSLOG and trigger automation to assist the operational staff.  All this infrastructure has made most of this log data unnecessary for operations and mainly of archival interest if of any interest at all. The most valuable SMF data usable for capacity planning, chargeback and other use cases has been kept in expensive mainframe databases and processed by expensive reporting tools.

In parallel to the disruption that is being driven by emerging technologies there is a special skill crisis in the mainframe world; the experts that have been managing these systems for 40-50 years are retiring and there are not enough people being trained to replace them.

Fortunately in the confluence of these two trends a solution is born. By leveraging this new ability to process mainframe log data in platforms like Splunk and Hadoop, a new generation of IT workers can assist “Mainframe IT” by proactively seeing problems emerge and assisting in their resolution. In the first wave of adoption this will help offset the reduced availability of mainframe skills, but it won’t obviate the need for them completely and it won’t replace the old point management tools. Yet.

As this technology matures, and machine learning solutions become proven and trusted, we will see emerge a new generation of tools.  Based on deep learning, these will replace both the old mainframe tools and the personnel who used them, but now want to be left in peace by the lake.  My prediction is that as this comes to be a reality, we will also see a move of analytics technology back onto the mainframe platform.  The old dream of “autonomic computing” will become a reality and a new mainframe will in effect evolve; one that tunes and self-heals itself.

Syncsort plans to be there, in fact we are leading the way there. We offer the keys to the treasure chest for anyone who wants to follow our map to find the dream of great riches!

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Untapped Potential Is A Leader’s Dream

Recently, Amazon recognized that it was losing certain customers to brick-and-mortar retailers that could offer customers instant gratification: order online and pick up in the store the same day. But rather than laying brick, Amazon began working with partners to deliver items to customers in certain locations the same day. Google also set up deals with contractors to offer same-day delivery from retail affiliates, including Target and Costco.

Meanwhile, retailers Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, with brick-and-mortar legacies, are partnering with Silicon Valley–based startup Deliv to offer its shoppers same-day at-home delivery. Deliv uses crowdsourced drivers to pick up orders from local stores.

Business-to-business (B2B) companies have similarly invested in a network of partners to meet customer demand. Cisco relies on large and small partnerships to sell, install, and provide additional services for the company’s routers, servers, security devices, and other networking equipment. These partnerships extend the company’s reach and serve its customers in ways Cisco could not do effectively or cost-efficiently on its own.

“As companies rethink their business models in the context of what their customers really want, many are realizing they just cannot do everything themselves,” says Kerry Bodine, customer experience consultant and co-author of Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. In today’s digital age, consumers and businesses have grown accustomed to getting what they want, how they want it, when they want it. But investing in all the new people, processes, and technologies required to meet these new expectations is often not possible.

Instead, collaboration with customer-facing partners is on the rise.

“Companies need to start thinking about doing with their demand chain the same thing they did with their supply chain,” says Curtis Bingham, executive director of the Chief Customer Officer Council. “It’s about inviting partners to integrate more closely with you to better serve customers and to create incentives for doing so.

Demand chain collaboration is emerging as a clever and cost-saving way to deliver increased value to the customer.

Back in the old days, big companies simply dictated how, when, and at what volume their supply chain partners were going to supply their widgets, Bingham says. Yet over time, they realized the value in developing more collaborative relationships.That’s easier to do with partners on the back end, however, by rewarding suppliers based on easy-to-quantify metrics like the revenue flowing through the supply chain. Companies are just beginning to explore how to create appropriate metrics and incentives—based not just on volume or margins but also on results that customers value—for multiple partners who handle the customer experience. Any mistakes or missteps in the demand chain are immediately visible to the customer and can have an instant negative impact.

Don’t Integrate Systems, Create Microservices

Today, those who share common technology systems with partners can extend their reach through customer-facing partnerships and still remain involved in managing that customer experience as conducted through a third party.

However, integrating your software systems with your partners’ would be tilting at windmills: impossible, expensive, and time consuming. Yet, there’s a way to do it on a small scale that is both inexpensive and easy: microservices platforms, which break down the functionality of a software application into a set of collaborating services.

These platforms, which are hosted in the cloud, offer much promise for customer experience collaboration. Their modularity facilitates integration and enables companies to more readily make changes to systems in response to changing customer demands than they could with older, traditional software. The cloud architecture’s flexibility enables companies and their partners to easily share systems and deliver a more seamless collaborative customer experience.

Jamie Anderson is Director of Global Solutions Marketing for Customer and E-Commerce Solutions at SAP.

Companies partner with each other in the supply chain for a variety of reasons, including cost savings, expertise, flexibility, and scalability. “No single brand exists in isolation,” says Bodine. “Every company depends on an ecosystem of other companies behind the scenes.”

For years, brands relied on big-box stores and other retailers to deliver their products to consumers, keeping themselves one step removed from their customers. Today that’s a problem. Because the Internet and social media have enabled consumers to interact directly with companies, customers expect a more intimate relationship with brands, not just retailers.

In today’s marketplace, customer experience is the competitive differentiator, customer trust the primary currency, and brand loyalty the ultimate value. That makes these front-end alliances risky. Companies can no longer afford to keep their distance from customers, lest they cede control of the customer experience to their partners.

For example, if a Cisco buyer’s experience with a brand partner breaks down at any point, Cisco takes the hit. “Customers don’t care who owns what parts of the value chain,” says Bingham. “They have a deal with you and they hold you accountable. The customer’s social and financial contracts are with the company, not with whoever is standing there at the last mile.”

Demand chain collaboration is emerging as a clever and cost-saving way to deliver increased value to the end customer, whether it’s same-day delivery from Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s or a two-bedroom Airbnb condo on the beach. The potential benefits accrue to the customer experience, but that’s also where the danger lies.

When a breakdown occurs in the customer experience at any point, the effects can be devastating. Research is showing that emotion drives the customer experience. And when a customer experiences a negative emotion, such as frustration or anger, from a gaffe, it can drive a wedge—sometimes a permanent one—in the relationship.

(For more on emotions and the customer experience, see “Customer Relationship Status: It’s Complicated” in this issue.) According to a survey by Dimensional Research, 66% of B2B customers and 52% of business-to-consumer (B2C) customers stopped buying from a company after a bad customer service interaction, while 62% of B2B and 42% of B2C customers purchased more after a good customer service experience. And the effects of a poor customer experience linger. Dimensional Research found that one-quarter (24%) of customers continued to seek out companies two or more years after a good experience, while 39% continued to avoid those brands that delivered a bad one.

There’s no doubt that companies—from retailers and e-commerce companies to manufacturers and service companies—will increasingly recruit a network of demand chain partners to serve their customers. But they will need to mitigate the risks of such customer-facing collaboration by recognizing that they must drive positive emotional affinity at every point in the customer experience.

The last bastion of competitive differentiation for any company is the brand: what it stands for and how customers feel about it. It’s critical that any partners can execute on that brand’s tenets. That’s why signing a deal with the more cost-effective partner may not be in an enterprise’s best interest. Instead, companies must seek out alliances with other organizations that share their values.

Companies that want their partners to care about their customers will also make an effort to care about their partners.

But values can be a nebulous concept, difficult to articulate internally, let alone with potential partners. To find companies that treat customers the way you do, says Bodine, you must first have a deep understanding of who your customers are, what they value, and what they want or need. Only then can a company communicate its own values to a partner.

When customers hear the Amazon name, for example, they may think about ease of ordering, broad product selection, fast delivery, and personalized service. So when they walk into one of the stores Amazon partners with, they’ll naturally want to see those values at work. They’ll want product availability, fast service, an understanding of who they are, and a seamless interaction.

Corbis 42 74086610 Untapped Potential Is A Leader’s DreamTarget recently partnered with startup Curbside to offer its customers the ability to order online and pick up their purchases at one of the company’s retail stores without leaving their car. It will be critical that Curbside meets not just Target’s expectations but also Target’s customers’ expectations. “They have to make sure their corporate objectives are aligned,” says Bodine.

Businesses that seek to collaborate with partners at critical customer touch points must quantify the value of the customer experience to the business and invest accordingly in shared tools and processes to make it as seamless as possible. If the returns aren’t there, it’s probably not worth exposing the brand to the risks. When problems occur, companies “must have mechanisms in place so you can efficiently resolve issues,” says Joseph Pine, co-founder of Strategic Horizons LLP and author of The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre and Every Business a Stage. “They also need the ability to escalate issues when they’re not resolved,” he says. “Again, it hurts your brand more than the partners’ brand because you are the one that the customers feel they have a relationship with.”

Companies should also work with partners to find ways to improve the customer experience. “They should look at this as an opportunity for brand amplification by enabling their partners to deliver on all of their brands’ promises,” says Bodine.

Successful partnerships in the supply chain ultimately deliver more than just decreased costs and increased efficiencies. Close collaboration with the right partners on the back end have enabled companies to increase market share, meet emerging customer demands, increase sales volume, and develop new processes. Similarly, demand chain partnerships can yield not just operational benefits but also strategic business value.

Companies that come up against issues in the demand chain would be wise to look closer at how partners really feel about them—and why—just as they would if a relationship with a supplier goes awry.

Tight contractual agreements and incentives for customer experience excellence are certainly important. Partners need a financial reason to serve your customers and your brand well. But companies that want their partners to care about their customers will also make an effort to care about their partners. “Partners are viewed by many companies as a necessary evil. If we’re big enough, we’ll simply dictate the terms and performance measures,” says Bingham. “But there’s no trust. There’s no partner engagement. Partners will resent being dictated to and, in most cases, won’t even let the company access their data.”

Corbis 42 74086602 Untapped Potential Is A Leader’s Dream
Partner emotions matter. The key to customer engagement within an increasingly distributed demand chain is to focus on partner engagement, says Bingham. “The partner experience is the exact same principal as the customer experience. Companies need to change their attitude and behavior towards their partners so that they treat them as well as they do customers. If there is no partner engagement, the company has limited ability to influence the customer experience at the far end.”

Where there is engagement, those partners will be more willing to collaborate to improve the customer experience because they see the mutual benefit, says Bingham. They’ll be more likely to share their data for improved customer insight. They’ll be more responsive to efforts to educate them about how to improve the customer experience. Some companies invite their customer experience partners to participate in problem resolution or innovation jams, says Bingham.

Companies seeking to effectively partner on customer-facing processes should also articulate their customer experience standards. In much the same way that companies set service standards for partners—“the what you do” piece of things—they should set experience standards—“the how you do it part,” says Pine. “What companies need to do, particularly in today’s experience economy, is have experience standards.”

The annals of supply chain management are filled with partner failures; in the demand chain, they can have an even more immediate and long-lasting impact. Consider the now-famous customer service disaster of computer maker Dell, which marketed its “award-winning service support” and then faced a consumer backlash when its India-based call center failed to deliver on that promise. The experience was so bad that Dell was forced to bring customer support stateside. And that was an issue with a foreign subsidiary, not a third-party collaborator.

There are perhaps no demand chains more distributed than those being managed by companies that have emerged in the collaborative economy. Uber built a car service without buying any cars or hiring any drivers. Instead, it developed a smart, map-based connector platform and borrows cars and drivers. Instacart created a one-hour grocery delivery service without buying any warehouses or vehicle fleets. Airbnb established a hospitality company without building any hotels or hiring any front-desk clerks.

Icons 1024x768 Untapped Potential Is A Leader’s DreamSuch companies lean heavily on third parties to deliver their services. “They depend on those relationships to deliver the actual experience customers have inside a rented room or within a car,” says Pine. “Their brands are in the hands of those individual drivers or property owners, which is why they need to vet them heavily,” just as a manufacturer would do with its suppliers.

Airbnb hired hospitality industry veteran Chip Conley to work more closely with the company’s 800,000 hosts around the world. In addition to the nine customer experience standards that Airbnb asks its property owners to stick to, Conley trained hosts in 17 cities on what he calls the “five moments of truth” for its customers.

Last November, Airbnb held its first international conference for 15,000 hosts with a program to educate, support, inspire, and celebrate those partners. Conley’s “major portfolio is to teach and to train and to cajole their suppliers to provide a great experience to their customers, and that’s a key to their ongoing success,” says Pine.

And companies must provide incentives for their partners in the demand chain to meet those standards. The Cisco Channel Partner Program, for example, rewards partners who create customer value, no matter their size or sales volume. As more companies enter into customer-facing partnerships, they too will have to figure out the best ways to reward partners for excellence in delivering their piece of the customer experience.

Such joint customer experience delivery is not right for every brand. “Some companies are beginning to recognize that there are some things that are just too important to their brand, to their customer experience, that they can’t delegate,” says Bingham.

But companies that create mutually beneficial relationships with their demand chain partners will not only be able to safeguard their brands and customer experience standards. They will also deliver new value to customers that they could not provide on their own.

See more from SAP on Customer Experience and join the conversation.

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Digitalist Magazine

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Blogtastic!

Work/Life Balance: Is It The Impossible Dream?

Generation Z’s arrival in the workforce means some changes are on the horizon for recruiters. This cohort, born roughly from the mid-90s to approximately 2010, will be entering the workforce in four What Gen Z%E2%80%99s Arrival in the Workforce Means For Recruiters 740x431 300x175 Work/Life Balance: Is It The Impossible Dream?short years, and you can bet recruiters and employers are already paying close attention to them.

This past fall, the first group of Gen Z youth began entering university. As Boomers continue to work well past traditional retirement age, four or five years from now, we’ll have an American workplace comprised of five generations.

Marketers and researchers have been obsessed with Millennials for over a decade; they are the most studied generation in history, and at 80 million strong they are an economic force to be reckoned with. HR pros have also been focused on all things related to attracting, motivating, mentoring, and retaining Millennials and now, once Gen Z is part of the workforce, recruiters will have to shift gears and also learn to work with this new, lesser-known generation. What are the important points they’ll need to know?

Northeastern University led the way with an extensive survey on Gen Z in late 2014 that included 16- through 19-year-olds and shed some light on key traits. Here are a few points from that study that recruiters should pay special attention to:

  • In general, the Generation Z cohort tends to be comprised of self-starters who have a strong desire to be autonomous. 63% of them report that they want colleges to teach them about being an entrepreneur.
  • 42% expect to be self-employed later in life, and this percentage was higher among minorities.
  • Despite the high cost of higher education, 81% of Generation Z members surveyed believe going to college is extremely important.
  • Generation Z has a lot of anxiety around debt, not only student loan debt, and they report they are very interested in being well-educated about finances.
  • Interpersonal interaction is highly important to Gen Z; just as Millennials before them, communicating via technology, including social media, is far less valuable to them than face-to-face communication.

Of course Gen Z is still very young, and their opinions as they relate to future employment may well change. For example, reality is that only 6.6% of the American workforce is self-employed, making it likely that only a small percentage of those expecting to be self-employed will be as well. The future in that respect is uncertain, and this group has a lot of learning to do and experiences yet ahead of them. However, when it comes to recruiting them, here are some things that might be helpful.

Generation Z is constantly connected

Like Millennials, Gen Z is a cohort of digital natives; they have had technology and the many forms of communication that affords since birth. They are used to instant access to information and, like their older Gen Y counterparts, they are continually processing information. Like Millennials, they prefer to solve their own problems, and will turn to YouTube or other video platforms for tutorials and to troubleshoot before asking for help. They also place great value on the reviews of their peers.

For recruiters, that means being ready to communicate on a wide variety of platforms on a continual basis. In order to recruit the top talent, you will have to be as connected as they are. You’ll need to keep up with their preferred networks, which will likely always be changing, and you’ll need to be transparent about what you want, as this generation is just as skeptical of marketing as the previous one.

Flexible schedules will continue to grow in importance

With the growth of part-time and contract workers, Gen Z will more than likely assume the same attitude their Millennial predecessors did when it comes to career expectations; they will not expect to remain with the same company for more than a few years. Flexible schedules will be a big part of their world as they move farther away from the traditional 9-to-5 job structure as work becomes more about life and less about work, and they’ll likely take on a variety of part time roles.

This preference for flexible work schedules means that business will happen outside of traditional work hours, and recruiters’ own work hours will, therefore, have to be just as flexible as their Gen Z targets’ schedule are. Companies will also have to examine what are in many cases decades old policies on acceptable work hours and business norms as they seek to not only attract, but to hire and retain this workforce with wholly different preferences than the ones that came before them. In many instances this is already happening, but I believe we will see this continue to evolve in the coming years.

Echoing the silent generation

Unlike Millennials, Gen Z came of age during difficult economic times; older Millennials were raised in the boom years. As Alex Williams points out in his recent New York Times piece, there’s an argument to be made that Generation Z is similar in attitude to the Silent Generation, growing up in a time of recession means they are more pragmatic and skeptical than their slightly older peers.

So how will this impact their behavior and desires as job candidates? Most of them are the product of Gen X parents, and stability will likely be very important to them. They may be both hard-working and fiscally savvy.

Sparks & Honey, in their much quoted slideshare on Gen Z, puts the number of high-schooler students who felt pressured by their parents to get jobs at 55 percent. Income and earning your keep are likely to be a big motivation for GenZ. Due to the recession, they also share the experience of living in multi-generational households, which may help considerably as they navigate a workplace comprised of several generations.

We don’t have all the answers

With its youngest members not yet in double digits, Gen Z is still maturing. There is obviously still a lot that we don’t know. This generation may have the opposite experience from the Millennials before them, where the older members experienced the booming economy, with some even getting a career foothold, before the collapse in 2008. Gen Z’s younger members may get to see a resurgent economy as they make their way out of college. Those younger members are still forming their personalities and views of the world; we would be presumptuous to think we have all of the answers already.

Generational analysis is part research, but also part theory testing. What we do know is that this second generation of digital natives, with its adaption of technology and comfort with the fast-paced changing world, will leave its mark on the American workforce as it makes its way in. As a result, everything about HR will change, in a big way. I wrote a post for my Forbes column recently where I said, “To recruit in this environment is like being part wizard, part astronaut, part diplomat, part guidance counselor,” and that’s very true.

As someone who loves change, I believe there has never been a more exciting time to be immersed in both the HR and the technology space. How do you feel about what’s on the horizon as it relates to the future of work and the impending arrival of Generation Z? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Social tools are playing an increasingly important role in the workplace, especially for younger workers. Learn more: Adopting Social Software For Workforce Collaboration [Video].

The post What Gen Z’s Arrival In The Workforce Means For Recruiters appeared first on TalentCulture.

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Digitalist Magazine » Jen Cohen Crompton

Work/Life Balance: Is It The Impossible Dream?

Will you get sucked into the madness of the NCAA Final Four Tournament this year? It’s OK if you do.2500x1666xwpid thumbnail a7c3f24d9fa53d3c6ea0076f625ae724.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.H7xKClsJcp Work/Life Balance: Is It The Impossible Dream?

The tournament has come a long way since its origin in an old gym at Northwestern in 1939. And branding the phrase “March Madness” back in the ’80s raised the event’s popularity to new heights, as it became the second most prevalent sports showcase for advertisers, behind only the NFL playoffs.

Take Quicken Loans and Warren Buffett’s infamous offering: One billion dollars to anyone who can perfectly predict the entire bracket. Don’t count on it, though; the odds of winning are worse than hitting the lottery two times in a row, while only purchasing a single ticket each time (1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808).

But just how popular is it?

It’s estimated that an unprecedented $ 2 billion dollars in productivity is lost in the office through the tournament’s duration. And brace yourself for this fervent factoid: In the last several years, urologists across the country have reported increases of as much as 50% in the number of vasectomies scheduled in the days leading to the tournament. What a crazy (yet clever) way to justifiably sit glued to the TV while in “recovery,” enjoying hours of guilt-free games from morning ’til night. In fact, it’s become so popular that urologists have created their own marketing campaigns by offering discounts and free pizzas. Curious on the second most popular time to book the operation? Right before the Masters.

So why can two teams like Wofford or Davidson transform from complete unknowns in February to the talk of the tournament in March? Social media has helped. According to Twitter, there were more than 135,000 tweets using #MarchMadness during the few days between Selection Sunday and the first game last year. But for the most part, social merely elevates popular topics to a higher level. The originality of the trending topic or event needs to start organically – with the product itself (a.k.a. the games) and the way they make you feel.

How can retailers convert customers into fans?

“What’s the difference between a customer and a fan?” asked Vivek Ranadivé, majority owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, during the keynote at Stanford GSB’s inaugural Sports Innovation Conference. “Fans will paint their face purple, fans will evangelize. … Every other CEO in every business is dying to be in our position — they’re dying to have fans.”

Rooting for your favorite sports team is an emotional roller coaster, and we all love the ride. But March Madness isn’t popular because of one team, or one player, but two main themes that retailers need to embrace.

1.  A personalized experience

Each year 60 million Americans (including the president) watch the games with brackets in their hands. Some teams on the bracket might seem like a mystery, but winners and losers are selected nevertheless. The created rooting interest adds meaning to games that might otherwise get turned off. We cheer for our customized bracket and jeer against our competition’s choices. Consumers like personalization, and they expect it. Seventy-eight percent of them are more likely to be a repeat customer if a retailer provides them with targeted, personalized offers; they’ll even pay 25% more for a better customer experience.

2.  The element of surprise

The “Madness” comes from all of the seemingly impossible surprises each year. Ironically, even though we’re expecting these surprises in advance, we watch unknowingly of when or where to expect them. Yet once the magical buzzer beater swishes the net as it always seems to do … we’re still surprised!

It behooves the innovative retailer to find ways to evoke the customers’ emotions and capture their attention. For example, Disney recently created a fictional storefront inside of a mall without any intent to ever open it to the public. Instead, unsuspecting shoppers were pleasantly surprised as they passed by. They witnessed their morphed shadows that instantly portrayed Disney characters. It put a smile on thousands of faces and ultimately enticed many to start dancing. Without a single item available for purchase, this experiential marketing campaign successfully harnessed over 500,000 Facebook likes, in large, from the element of surprise.

In college, I was employed at Citizens Bank and was chosen to work my shifts at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. My mission as a “Ballpark Banker” was to serve as a goodwill ambassador to the fans, and the underlying theme blossomed around both personalization and the element of surprise. Whether golf-carting the elderly from the parking lot to the stadium or engaging the fans with random acts of kindness, the ballpark banker combines a fan-friendly, personalized experience with the intrigue of surprise. It’s not what you’d expect from a typical bank, is it? The future of retail is now. How are you revolutionizing the customer experience and converting consumers into fans? Work/Life Balance: Is It The Impossible Dream?

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Digitalist Magazine » Jen Cohen Crompton

Work/Life Balance: Is It The Impossible Dream?

For most high performing executives, at some point during their career, they will experience a trigger moment that forces them to face the hard truths of their current situation and reconsider where they are in their lives…and what they really want.

Trigger moments

273131 h ergb s gl Work/Life Balance: Is It The Impossible Dream?For Arianna Huffington, she speaks of the day when she opened her eyes to realize she was lying in a pool of her own blood after collapsing in her home office. The diagnosis? Sheer exhaustion. What did she learn? That consecutive 18-hour workdays weren’t helping her and that although she had reached the traditional, professional definition of success, she wasn’t successful lying on the ground. Huffintgon vowed to change her ways.

For [now retired] Google CFO Patrick Pichette, it was when he was traveling abroad and wanted to rush back to his duties at Google and his wife questioned his decision and asked when it would be “their time.” For Pichette, that was his eye-opening moment that made him reconsider his role and what exactly he was doing with his life. He cited this realization in his recent resignation announcement.

The struggle is real

This work/life struggle is something almost every working American faces. Whether it’s a full-time, high-powered job, or more of a 9-5 that keeps someone away from their spouse or children, most struggle to set and stick to boundaries and find a happy medium. This is due to financial obligations, work requirements, and the volatile economic landscape…and it leads to unhappy employees and family members.

And because not everyone runs a successful 24/7 media company and is financially stable, or has a CFO position at Google that has enabled quitting at age 52, we are brought to wonder if work/life balance is a reality.

Does this ethereal concept exist? Or is it the impossible dream?

The stats

According to a June 2014 White House report from The Council of Economic Advisors, in 2010, 46 percent of working men and women reported that their job demands interfered with their family life sometimes or often. More importantly, a third of workers have passed up a job because it conflicted with family obligations.

These days, most American jobs just don’t have the flexibility or time off that some family responsibilities require and therefore, are not feasible employment options.

So, what needs to happen? Change.

Flexibility and paid leave

Could companies make simple changes to provide flexibility and paid leave options that could be the keys to employees achieving the impossible dream? This is a possibility.

A 2011 Gallup Poll found that having access to flexible work arrangements was highly correlated with greater worker engagement and higher well-being.

The aforementioned White House report also concurs and shows that 9 in 10 Americans believe employers should offer workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs, so long as their work gets done; and 52 percent of workers feel that they could do their job better if they were allowed a more flexible schedule.

The benefits of a more flexible work environment and increased paid leave can benefit companies through:

  • Increased productivity
  • Access to more talented workers
  • Lower turnover and replacement costs
  • Less absenteeism

While workers would experience:

  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Less work-family balance challenges

Next steps

As more Millennials enter the workforce with new priorities and high-powered executives face these defining moments, some companies have caught on and are already making changes, but it isn’t enough.

Most companies haven’t changed and they are soon going to be forced to reevaluate their company infrastructure as it relates to flexibility and paid leave. By companies evaluating the cost and benefits of transforming into a more work/life friendly atmosphere, simple changes to the internal structure can end in big results.

If companies focus on the future workforce and changing economy, the concept of work/life balance may actually become a reality and not just the impossible dream…but we still have a long way to go.

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Digitalist Magazine » Jen Cohen Crompton